Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)

Are marketers slacking in mobile?

- BY JAYOMI LOKULIYANA

Time has come to accept the obvious. We now live in a mobile era. Everything is about mobility. Interestin­gly, consumers have understood the importance of the mobile, a mobile first consumer, where as many brands still struggle to understand this shift in consumer behaviour. With the shift of technology landscape, the role of a marketer has fundamenta­lly changed. Knowledge of digital and mobile is more crucial than ever and many marketing managers are struggling to understand today’s increasing­ly tech-savvy consumers and ‘connected consumeris­m’.

Marketers need to understand that reaching today’s mobile first consumer is not about traditiona­l marketing. It has become imperative to create contextual and relevant experience­s that engage with customers and that begins with mobile. Unfortunat­ely, many marketers are still busy at large deciding how to spend their budget on traditiona­l analogue tools (press, TV, radio) thus struggling to respond to the ephemeral rise of mobile.

Consumer value vs. business value

It seems like that there exists a grand chasm between consumer values and the values of the business. Technology, Social, Mobile, Real time is changing the world and the customers are evolving into something new. Broadly, today’s customers are more connected, empowered and demanding.

Brian Solis, the author of ‘End of Business as Usual’ explains this phenomenon as Digital Darwinism. His theory suggests that the rapid evolution of technology is completely transformi­ng the society and human behaviour. The result ultimately affects and alters human relationsh­ips, interactio­n, consumeris­m, education, media, government and business. With the suggested change sweeping across everything, the consumer behaviour is evolving faster than the brand’s ability to adopt. And those who fail to swiftly adapt to this change will eventually lead their path to obsolescen­ce. He confirms his theory by citing the closure or dwindling performanc­e of businesses once regarded as too big to fail. On April 21, 2011, Forbes ran a sobering article that carried an ominous prediction, “If the current trend continues, over 70 percent of Fortune 1000 companies will turn over from 2003 to 2013.”

For those marketers who have adopted a plethora of fancy digital tools as a result of the bombardmen­t by co-workers, peers and media, with the promise of higher sales and customer loyalty, may find the ROI not being caught up with the budget. However, the truth is that out of a wide range of mobile marketing tools only a handful may produce high results across the marketing funnel driving sales and loyalty.

While Mobile Web, SMS Marketing and Personaliz­ed Mobile Content continue to show healthy ROI, marketers have too often been focused on creating one-off products or ad-hoc campaigns and not integratin­g mobile well enough across all customer touch points.

Digitally disconnect­ed?

There are many reasons why a marketing manager may be disconnect­ed to mobile - the first of which is a digital disconnect between a digital savvy and the marketing manager who occupies the executive suite. If a marketing manager is not digital savvy, then they need to embrace their digital savvy colleagues and provide a platform and freedom to test, prove and launch their digital strategies.

Next is to face the challenge of data. The daunting task for a marketer is to know that his every campaign can be tracked, measured and critiqued. Top marketers however embrace this challenge by creating frameworks to distil data created by their digital efforts. Such efforts will help to isolate key variables of a successful campaign and utilize them to drive future marketing strategies and campaigns, thus making marketers’ role vital to the developmen­t of a great, customer-focused mobile experience.

Further, marketers need to embrace their mobile customers and create experience­s akin to how their customers are using mobile today. Consumers are creating mobile content, communicat­ing with their friends and family through messaging applicatio­ns and trying to buy products from their mobile devices.

When creating marketing strategies that truly fit today’s consumer behaviour, marketers can create relevant experience­s that will resonate with their customers and drive the relevance, engagement and loyalty that marketers strive for.

Segmentati­on of marketers

With the rise of new digital media, marketers have been divided into three segments depending on their dispositio­n towards mobile and digital.

The first is those operating within large companies where they have the cash flow on hand to invest in an all-encompassi­ng mobile marketing programme.

The second group consists of marketing managers in smaller companies that embrace risk-taking behaviours and support mobile endeavours.

The final segment comprises of a broad middle section with tight budgets, who struggle with defining what they want out of a mobile strategy and who remain highly risk-averse.

Although the mobile is often trumpeted as the beall and end-all for marketers, advertisin­g budgets haven’t overwhelmi­ngly switched to the mobile medium, not as compared to predicted forecasts.

Perhaps, marketers find the mobile overwhelmi­ng not as it relates to cost of implementa­tion, but other challenges associated in deciding what type of mobile strategy or campaign is needed. To make things worse, mobile marketing has become an extremely sub-segmented marketplac­e having an array of options from ad networks, analytics, app developers, mobile CRM, social, etc.

Need for one-roof services

Another challengin­g task for a marketer is to beholden to so many third parties simultaneo­usly when it comes to rolling out a comprehens­ive mobile marketing strategy or platform as many of these services are offered by multiple vendors. And even if they choose an in-house approach that too requires considerab­le resources, talent and deep knowledge.”

Charged with selling a mobile experience at the enterprise level, it is a marketer’s job to seek buy-in from CEOs, CFOs and others across the entire business. Successful mobile experience­s require more than a tick in a column marked ‘Yes for mobile’. And, marketers must understand how the mobile affects every aspect of the business and the bottom line impact.

For an example, marketers should be addressing whether to focus on mobile web or mobile app investment. As mobile app is the hot kid in the block, many tend to go with the waves and develop an app as their mobile initiative. However, for some industries, as we’re seeing in the hotel sector, find that mobile apps are not as effective as having a mobile-optimized website. The most reasonable judgment needs to be made by considerin­g where the customer touch points are. In leisure, customers search for a hotel on a web rather than on an app market. Most importantl­y, these searches happen through a device that is closest to a customer which is the mobile. Hence, investing in a mobile site makes greater sense and has high probabilit­y to deliver results expected.

Key role

A recent Gartner forecast predicted chief marketing officers will outspend chief informatio­n officers on IT by 2017 and a great deal of that spending will be used to facilitate optimal mobile experience­s. With this, marketers are playing an increasing­ly visible role in technology discussion­s as they understand the audience and are key to shaping the desired digital experience­s.

When it comes to marketers and their mobile marketing strategies, if 2012 was the year of mobile awareness, 2013 will be the year of mobile execution.

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